Gaining work experience

Written by Anna-Pascalle Levine, Employability Executive at The Careers Service

Did you know that the skills employers are looking for most, and often feel are lacking from a graduate’s CV are:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Commercial awareness

The Careers Service recognises you may be struggling to develop these and other skills during the current COVID pandemic. Some of you may already have these skills and be making them count, some of you will gain them in your degree, but some of you will be relying on gaining work experience. Here are some steps you can take to help develop your skill set and find opportunities during the current climate.

Step 1 – take a skills audit

Employers are adjusting their expectations, but they are still expecting to see some experience on your CV. Here at the Careers Service we can suggest some ways to get around the impact of COVID on your career pathway. Think about the transferable skills you have gained through your course, work experience and extra-curricular activities and how they can be applied to applications for work experience opportunities.

Step 2 – consider existing opportunities…

  • Sign up to our Volunteer Hub – here you can search and apply for volunteering opportunities.
  • We have launched our Student Experience Internships programme for this summer. Why not take a look and apply!
  • Look at your LinkedIn account and if you have not already got one, here’s how to set it up with success. Start connecting with people and academics you already know, as this will give you thousands of secondary contacts.
  • Think about your work experience being virtual. You could attend meetings, sign up to courses and attend workshops that the Careers Service runs. These experiences can all be added to your CV. Look on CareerConnect to find all our upcoming events.  
  • Be creative, and look at the sector you would like to go into, find an organisation and try to create a ‘what if?’ opportunity. This may involve you phoning the organisation you have identified, and asking, “could I do some work shadowing?” or, “do you have a project I could assist with?”

You may have done all of the above and now found a opportunity and want to say “yes” but the finances are a barrier. Don’t worry we can help!

The next step you can take is to make an application to the Work Experience Bursary Scheme.

The 2020/2021 scheme is now open and offers financial support for full time undergraduate students from all years to undertake career enhancing work experience. We want you to be able to say “yes” to an opportunity, and that is why there is funding to cover the following costs:

  • Accommodation costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Dependent care costs e.g. childcare

The scheme can offer you an award of up to £1,000 per year of study. You will be happy to hear the application process is simple! All we ask from you is that you provide evidence of the experience, your CV and you complete our online application. It’s a great opportunity to help the financial costs of completing work experience opportunity and help you gain experience to boost your employability.

If you have any questions relating to the Work Experience Bursary Scheme or the application process, visit our dedicated webpage or email the team.

The Careers Service is always here for you supporting you to gain work experience. Why not follow us on social media to find out everything we are doing: Facebook, Twitter and check out our YouTube channel for past online workshops.

All Undergraduate

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